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By Lisa Gaspar

The steel pan makes a beat, people in the crowd jump to the music, and multi-colour costumes are all over the streets in a parade theme. Vibes reminiscent of the tropics are felt by observers as they get an inside look.  This is just a taste of what to expect at Peeks Toronto Caribbean Carnival 2017 (formerly known as Caribana).

A new and exciting sponsor is pleased to announce its contribution. “As a Torontonian and given my family’s long history with the Toronto carnival, I am thrilled that Peeks Social will be the title sponsor in 2017 and for years to come,” says Mark Itwaru, Chairman and CEO of Toronto-based Peeks Social Ltd.  “The event continues to grow and I expect that people will soon be talking about it in the same breath as they talk about carnivals in Rio and the Caribbean!”

The mosaic of culture is definitely evident in the Canadian community.  Toronto is fortunate to celebrate an annual summer event in it’s 50th year.  A promise of hot-off-the press entertainment takes centre stage. It takes place August 3-7. Add on pre and post activities and it becomes a three-week event.  Brought to you by the islands of the Caribbean; Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and others have become ambassadors. Predominantly, the audience comes from the United States and West Indies. Celebrities often perform at after-parties together. Approximately one million people are expected this year.

What does multiculturalism mean to Canadians?  Being a diverse nation, all nationalities have their unique way of celebrating.  Coming straight from the roots, Caribbean culture is manifested by cultivating art.

Anthony Berot, a photographer involved with the event says, “A highlight this year that kick starts the festivities is the King and Queen Parade. It’s a showcase displaying the best of the best, and the highly awaited crowning of King and Queen, based on presentation.”

On August 5th the official parade aims to amaze the audience by bringing out the best aspects of culture rather than hype. If you’re looking into playing Mas this year, everyone is welcome.  Mas is taken from the term, “Masquerade” because of the highly detailed costumes. All 11 bands have a theme and will perform. Featured Mas bands making an appearance include Carnival Nationz, Island Vybz, and Tribal Carnival.

Besides all the costumes and floats, attendees can enjoy the soca tunes in the background and eat some delicious treats.  Authentic Caribbean food will be served at street kiosks starting from the Exhibition all along Lakeshore.  Foodies can get their hands on meals such as jerk chicken, roti, and an all-time favourite – doubles! What’s the inside scoop on this dish? Doubles consists of two bara (fried flat bread) and filled with channa (curried chick peas).

“It’s a celebration of heritage and we want to pass this tradition onto the younger generations.  This will allow the parade to continue in the future as it has been preserved for nearly 50 years,” says Berot.

The party doesn’t end with the parade. After parties include some special performances. Hot 97 radio station has been the main event in previous years. Returning this summer, they are partnered with international DJs.  Although most after-parties are on-site in nightclubs, another idea is to set sail on Empress of Canada Lake Ontario boat cruises.

Junior Carnival takes place on July 22nd.  This is an opportunity for the younger generation to get in touch with their cultural values.  What can the children look forward to this year? “There’s a parade dedicated especially for children, then afterwards they join their colleagues in the park for performances and crafts,” says Berot.

Explore a new avenue of celebration through a one-of-a-kind event.
Plan in advance to get the most out of your Carnival experience.  For more information check out caribanatoronto.com.